Lawrence H. Summers Photo

Lawrence H. Summers

Charles W. Eliot University Professor
Director, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government
Office Address
79 John F. Kennedy St. Littauer Bldg 242
Summers, Lawrence H. "Taxes for Health: Evidence Clears the Air." The Lancet 391.10134 (May 2018): 1974-1976.


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of premature death in most of the world, and lower income households in most societies bear a disproportionate share of the associated preventable deaths. The papers by the Lancet Taskforce on NCDs and economics are a welcome addition to the evidence we need for reducing this disease burden. The papers show yet again that the necessary prevention and control measures for NCDs are multisectoral. The Lancet Taskforce on NCDs and economics highlights the role of fiscal policies in encouraging healthy diets and lifestyles to reduce the largest contributors to preventable NCDs — namely, smoking, harmful alcohol consumption, and obesity. Finally, the Taskforce helps clear the air over one of the most common obstacles to taxing the consumption of goods that kill us — namely, the argument that such taxes are regressive.